Open Meeting Law
Following the requirements of the Open Meeting Law is very important for school board members. School districts depend upon the members of their governing board and other committees to maintain compliance with the law. The public’s trust in its school districts and the officials who govern them is at stake. Board members should take the time to read the law and retain a copy for future reference.
Open Meeting Law FAQs
The OML applies to a meeting of a quorum (Majority of the board) Of the public body. What about other committees associated with the district such as a budget or curriculum committee or a school site council – do they have to follow the OML?
What are serial conversations? When are they triggered and how do they violate the law? Are email communications included in OML?
Can issues such as the district’s organizational structure be discussed in executive sessions using the oml’s exception for personnel matters?
My board regularly has a provision on the agenda for old business where we can take up any issue we’ve dealt with previously – is this compatible with the OML?
Do items on a board agenda have to be identified as “discussed, considered or decided”?
What is "the person off-the-street" test?
- Discussion of District Athletic Programs
- Sporting Equipment Report on Boys and Girls Athletic Programs
- Discussion of District Athletic Programs With Regard to Correct Share of Resources Between Boys and Girls Sports
- Don’t use “legaleze” – don’t just refer to a statute by cite or even by name, if that name is not commonly understood.
- Don’t use acronyms. Education-types love acronyms – IDEA, AYP, FAPE, CSF, ADM, 504. Remember your public is not familiar with these terms, even if you are.
What should happen if you get "off" agenda during a board meeting?
What is the superintendent/board member report exception of the open meeting law and what is it’s effect?
- The summary is listed on the agenda
- The public body “does not propose, discuss, deliberate or take legal action at that meeting on any matter in the summary unless the specific matter is properly noticed for legal action.”
If something in the superintendent or board member report piques the interest of the board, can follow-up questions or discussion take place?
- The varsity basketball team just returned from an important tournament and the superintendent wishes to inform the board of the results.
- A board member attended the National School Boards Association Annual Conference and wanted to let the other board members know how it went (remember to watch the discussion).
- An unanticipated discovery of important information has been just received by the district (after the board agenda had gone out) and the Superintendent wants to inform the board members about it (in this instance the Superintendent should caution that this cannot be discussed at this time but it will be on the next agenda for discussion).
Our district routinely allows other persons to give reports, such as the principals or the transportation director. Can these persons avail themselves of the OML notice exception for board member/Superintendent reports?
How can I get a copy of ASBA’s open meeting law handbook?
- Part One provides a brief guide for school board members and other civic leaders in public education;
- Part Two provides the text of the Open Meeting Law as of September 2010;
- Part Three provides the text of Chapter 7 of the Agency Handbook as prepared by the Office of the Arizona Attorney General, the primary enforcer of Arizona’s Open Meeting Law. The Agency Handbook was substantially revised in May 2001 and the insertion here reflects those changes.
If I have additional questions about the open meeting law, who should I contact?
Order a Copy of ASBA’s Open Meeting Law Handbook.
To request an Open Meeting Law training, contact Nick Buzan, ASBA Director of Legal and Policy Services.